Friday, 27 December 2013

Previews suck

I now look down at my popcorn at the movies during the interminable advertising for the cinema’s next offerings.

They are not merely insults to adult intelligence. They are the exact same insults to adult intelligence repeated over and again.

It started with the habit of interspersing clips with the sort of slobberingly breathless praise used in newspaper film ads, stuff one would be embarrassed to hear at a cocktail party. ‘Stunning!’ ‘Heartbreaking!’ ‘Instant classic!’ I guess there are enough cheap film critic whores around to crank out prose like that for whatever trash gets thrown at us.

By refusing to be distracted by the rapid-fire flashes on the screen, one can pick up the manipulative pattern used in every single trailer: quick cuts of images going by too fast to focus on that then accelerate into a dizzying spin with a crescendo of background music consisting either of soap-opera organ chords or thump-thump thriller cues all climaxing in a final explosion, sometimes a literal one. And then the coda: a telling phrase whispered into the sudden silence between the main characters like, ‘It’s too late for that!’ or ‘Come back for me!’

Okay, it’s advertising, and it must work, or they’d do it differently. But the movie theatre is one place where we can’t turn down the volume or skip ahead on the TiVo past the commercials. That means we need new methods of resistance, and I recommend mine: catch the first few frames to get a quick idea of the picture they want to sell you, then refuse to watch. When you realize the ads are all the same, it’s not even tempting. And you won’t get a migraine.

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